For returning Marianopolis students, it will not be a surprise that our new student body government has adopted a new mindset of change. Consequently, this has translated to a variety of changes deemed important to Marianopolis student life by Congress, all of which must be voted on by you, the students of the College.
After closely following the discussions of the student government body over the course of the summer, our team has decided to make this information even more accessible to students, with the hope of breaking records in terms of General Assembly attendance this Thursday, August 25th during Activity Period.
Without further ado, here are the changes you can expect to be presented at this week’s GA, and on which you must make up your mind during the voting procedure of the event.
As some students may have heard or realized when talking to Congress members during Orientation, the variety of Congress positions available has been decreased as a part of Congress’ efficiency initiative. The position of Coordinator of Student Development have been merged with Student Advocacy, for less overlap in functions. Additionally, more general Congress positions have been reduced: most significantly, the role of Honorary Coordinator has been eliminated, and a few Member-at-Large (MAL) positions have also been cut. By reducing the number of members, they hope to eliminate any unnecessary activity, to focus on initiatives that can only be successfully be run by Congress and take important decisions in a timelier fashion. In addition to the removal of many Congress positions, those that are left over, with the exception of the Vice-President of Finance, Coordinator of Communications, Administrative Assistant and two Member at Large positions, have now been changed to elected positions. However, the appointed position decisions will have to be ratified by the student body, to ensure general approval regarding the candidates chosen. Therefore, as you may have heard, all candidates willing to run are now going through nomination forms and will be attending both the Congress meeting next Friday and the Election Debate organized by the Marianopolis World Review on Thursday, September 1st during Activity Period. For the students who are interested in this initiative, please follow the guidelines provided by Elections and Referenda Committee members in the Facebook group of the Marianopolis Student Union!
Despite the significant change in the structure of Congress, some new initiatives have surfaced to get the Marianopolis community more involved, as well as to give a voice to people seeing important issues within the College. This includes ideas such as a Student Wellness Committee, an initiative inspired by similar values that had been echoed in Anthony Koch’s and Diana Di Iorio’s platforms, and a committee of program representatives to discuss issues within specific programs at the school. This budding idea was presented at the first Congress meeting of the semester by Julian Guidote, the Coordinator of Student Advocacy.
A more controversial aspect in the changes suggested by this year’s Congress has involved the MSU increasing its independence from the administration of the College. Concretely, this has resulted in initiatives like the accreditation of the student union (to be voted on September 15th, 16th and 19th), in Congress taking greater charge of Marianopolis clubs than in years prior and in changes concerning how these clubs are supposed to be run. Most importantly, Congress wants to put the power in the hands of students of the College only when it comes to executive decisions within clubs. As a result, Faculty Advisors, which are traditionally advisory positions occupied by faculty members, may not possess voting power within executive councils if this amendment is passed.
In line with these steps towards significant independence for the student union, and as a result of the potential accreditation of our organization, Congress would be in need of legal consultation, a minor cost which must be weighed against the potential benefits of an accredited union, as these services require both monetary and human resources. In addition, union independence would require consistency in financial reports and in legal consultation and generally requires an incredibly active student government. There have been serious discussions over the acquisition of an accountant as well. In a heated debate during the last Congress meeting, the most important argument that surfaced regarding this issue was one of legal legitimacy, entailed that the Student Union technically has no real enforcement power regarding its constitution. More commonly, the union also had issues with acquiring assets or licenses, such as alcohol licenses for parties, simply from a lack of legal recognition. This remains only a few of the many advantages to becoming an accredited student body.
Congress has also decided on much more accessible information regarding its activity for the students, both through their encouragement of our Congress coverage and through new online systems that will permit students to see minutes from meetings, financial reports, club funding decisions, etc.
Regarding election procedures, students are no longer allowed to run for an unspecified Coordinator position, having to instead run for a specific Coordinator role, with a separate ballot for each race. Furthermore, all Congress candidates would now be allowed to run as team platforms, while still being voted on individually, something that has not been allowed at the College for the past few years.
Interestingly, after rising concerns over internal activity for the past year in Congress and in the operation of clubs, a Procedural Committee will be put in place, which will be composed of Congress members. The role of this committee will be to investigate and enforce MSU rules and regulations and to monitor activity within the entire student union, including Congress and clubs. As for consequences, Congress has settled on a case-by-case analysis. Students must keep in mind here the composition of the committee, not allowing for direct student body implication, and decide for themselves whether this defeats the purpose of the group or not.
In recent news, Congress has issued out a public apology over the violation of a Congress resolution, one that stipulates that GAs must be announced 7 school days (and not 7 days) before the GA is to take place, therefore questioning the legitimacy of the event. Nonetheless, the response from students seems to have been positive, and it seems the event is to take place on Thursday, August 25th 2016.
All of this being said, we hope that students recognize the importance of their attendance to this General Assembly, as the amendments to be proposed will have a strong influence on the way our College will run over the course of the next school year.
Written by MWR Executive Editor, Véronique Leblanc